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How to do Paris when your broke as f@#k

It’s no secret that Paris is an expensive city to visit.

Actually it was recently listed as one of the 10 most expensive places for a city break, coming in a close second to London. So why the hell, you might ask, would Five Dollar Traveller go anywhere near Paris? This seriously can’t be a budget destination to visit?

In answer to the question:

1. Hello! It’s Paris – who wouldn’t want to visit?

2. It’s actually surprising what you can achieve in Paris on a limited budget.

We did it on the cheap, and we are going to show you how you can do it too.


Finding a place to rest your weary head after a day of sightseeing in Paris is going to be your number 1 expense. Hotels or even just a simple dorm bed are stupid expensive, and there’s no way of getting around that. So you will need to use a few of the tactics we’ve spoken about in the past: Couchsurfing, Airbnb and Housesitting.


We will admit, Couchsurfing is possibly dying a slow and excruciating death. Since it was bought out by a corporation back in May 2011 many of its loyal followers have given the site an almighty f#@k you and left in droves. BUT although it is getting harder to find a couch for the night – it doesn’t mean that they no longer exist.

With a location like Paris, you have to realise that the people that are still hosting get a ton of requests every single day. So you need to make yours stand out. Pay close attention to their profile and personal interests. Be polite, friendly, and contact them well in advance so they can try and accommodate you. Remember they are doing you a favour. They will only invite you to stay if they think you will be a worthwhile, interesting person to meet.

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Couchsurfing in Paris


This has taken off across the world. More and more people are turning to it as a way to find accommodation in many cities.

The great news is – there are many double rooms in Paris for a under $50 a night.

The thing to know about Airbnb is that it isn’t necessarily a Bed & Breakfast. Breakfast may, or may not be included. Once again read the owner’s profile to see exactly what you get. It may be an entire flat or it could be a fold out couch in their lounge room – you get what you pay for. Same as, you may have someone who is willing to show you around town, or you could just be given a spare set of keys and left to your own devices. It varies.

Housesitting / Petsitting

With housesitting your dates have to be flexible, because the accommodation depends on when the homeowner wants to go away. But, if you are a member of a housesitting site and get regular updates, you may just be lucky enough to score a housesit in Paris – they do come up. Make sure you have a kick ass profile, also pay attention to the homeowners profile. Write a request that displays what benefits YOU can offer them – not the other way round. With housesitting you are often required to take care of pets so they need to be your number one priority. And due to walks, feeding etc you may not be able to come and go as you please.

If you are looking for more accommodation options in Paris, we prefer to use HotelsCombined. They have a great selection and help you get the best possible price!


Most meals in restaurants around town are usually 12 euro ($15) and higher. There are a few fast food options around where you might score a cheaper meal – but even a sandwich or kebab is unlikely to come in under 5 euros ($6.50). So how do you survive in Paris without having to take on the popular french diet of just coffee and cigarettes?

Supermarkets or the “Supermarche” in France. Eiffel Tower With Baguette, Camembert and Wine

Here you can find a great assortment of food at very reasonable prices. Want a fresh baguette and some camembert cheese for lunch? Baguettes at the supermarche can cost as little as 40 cents and cheese can be on special for as low as 1 euros. If you want to spoil yourself you can pick up ham (jamon) or salami on special for about 1-2 euro.

We found that this was more than enough to feed the two of us for lunch. Apparently the Parisian traditional baguette is just cheese and ham so really you’re being “traditional”. Also throw in a 1.99 euro bottle of wine and you can have yourselves a little Paris party!

The cheapest supermarket chain in central Paris is Dia.

For a possibly nicer artisan baguette or other breads head to the boulangerie. These are found on almost every street corner in France, and a baguette will put you back about 90 cents to 1 euro 50. They often have an assortment of flans and other sweets to tempt your taste buds as well.

As you may not wish to live off bread and cheese alone – an assortment of fruit, vegetables and other food products all available at the supermarche for very affordable prices. If you have access to a kitchen – use it! It’ll save you a ton of cash. If you do want to have a night out, head to areas like little India in Paris. You’d be surprised how affordable their restaurant Thali (Indian set menu) is. We often saw veg thali with chapati for around 6-8 euro.


If you want to head out to a bar, then expect to pay prices or around 6 -12 euros for a pint. However keep an eye out for Happy Hours – you can get some great discounts on drinks.

Remember France is a place where its a sin to not drink wine! Head back to the trusty local supermarche and you can find quite decent bottles of wine for less than 3 euros. There are cheaper bottles than that – but life’s too short to drink crappy wine. The 2-4 euro range is quite decent.


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Museums / Art Galleries

Entrance fees in Paris are pretty high! And to tell you the truth you spend most of your time standing outside in line, waiting to empty your pockets for a 2 second glimpse of a much smaller than you’d imagined painting of the Mona Lisa. No,w the crowds we can’t do much about, there’s gonna be crowds. But there are ways of saving money on the entrance fees.

  • The first Sunday of every month, many museums and art galleries are FREE
  • If you are under 26 years old or a teacher you get free entry to many attractions
  • If a museum or gallery is open late, like a Thursday, entrance fees are sometimes reduced to an ‘after work hours’ fee from 4:30 onwards. You can also get a discounted rate for turning up at this time on a regular day – but you wont have enough time to see much of the galleries. They start clearing the galleries at 5:15

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Get a Free Guided tour

If you have a look online there are plenty of locals in Paris who offer free walking tours. Either because they love their city and want to show you around OR because they love their city, want to show you around, and enjoy tips!

 See amazing Views of Paris – For Free

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Head to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica or in English the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Turn up just before sunset and enjoy some of the best views in town. The Basilica itself is quite impressive, but if you’ve seen enough churches, it’s nice to sit on the steps and take in the view.

As a warning – this is a very popular tourist sight and there are plenty of hawkers around trying to sell you bracelets, mini eiffel towers and rip off designer bags and hats. Just politely decline any of their offers and make sure you watch your valuables (as with anywhere in Paris pickpockets are rife).

There are also a few guys getting around selling beer for 3 euro a bottle which plenty of tourists enjoy on a hot summers day. However we went for the BYO option. We brought a store bought bottle of wine with us, to enjoy as we watched the sun set on the city of Paris.

Eiffel Tower On the Cheap

One of the main attractions of Paris is of course the Eiffel Tower. But entrance fees for a short elevator ride to the top will put you out 15 euros per person. If you’re not entirely fussed about going to the very top there is a cheaper option.

Get that heart pumping and hit the stairs. You can take the stairs to the 2nd floor and still get a really nice view of the city for only 5 euros. The tower is open until either 11pm or midnight depending on the time of year – so head here to grab some great night shots of Paris.

For those youngsters who are under the age of 24 there are also discounted rates for you a well.

Bastille day Fireworks Paris 2014

 Getting Around

There are 3 main ways to get around paris on the cheap.



The metro is really an easy way for any traveller to find their way around Paris. The whole system is set up really well.  And the good thing is you can change lines without having to buy a new ticket every section of the way. We often bought tickets in packs of 10 for about 13.30 euro and used a combination of metro and walking to get around.


As in many cities these days, there is a bicycle hire set up. The bikes are available all over town and the first 30 minutes is free. So you can spend your time riding from station to station getting a free ride all day. Or its 1.70 euro for a day ticket. All the information is here 


The cheapest and healthiest of all of the options. No matter what, you will find that you do a ton of walking around Paris. So get your comfy walking shoes and enjoy the amazing streets and architecture of Gay Paree.


Paris is a city on pretty much everyone’s bucket list. If you use these tips you will find you can enjoy Paris without destroying your bank balance.

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